Ever since we were children, we were taught to be polite: thank you, you’re welcome, excuse me. These words are taken as a self-evident part of good behavior. Since this knowledge is ingrained in our backbone, you might think that using these expressions in a recruitment situation would be more than obvious – even to the degree that nothing else would seem to be an option. However, often this does not seem to be the case.

After having talked a great deal with job applicants and followed job search and job applicant experience debate in general, I find it baffling how much the words “thank you” continue to be overlooked.  Despite the fact that there is a great deal of talk about the matter and communications have been made effortless with modern devices (recruiting systems, email, mobile communications) job applicants are often left waiting for an answer that never comes.

All is well that ends well – or is it?

Everyone who has ever looked for a job knows how hard and time consuming work finding a job can be. You have to spend time charting potential job opportunities, getting to know the company, writing and sending applications. Hopes and expectations run high. However, often you come up short. “No, thank you” is a completely possible or even likely outcome. Disappointment to be sure, but something for which applicants are prepared. However, what applicants are unprepared for is non-communication; the fact there is no “no, thank you” at all.

All of us know how anxiety-inducing uncertainty and waiting are. You would think that the applicants’ input was appreciated enough to consider thanking them a key and even critical part of the process, which should be communicated as quickly as possible.  You would think that this more than anything is embedded in our backbone. When the missing “thank you” is complemented with growing uncertainty and waiting, the game is over: an image of the organization and its way to treat applicants is not particularly complimentary.

Important mass

When recruitment is focused in a few top candidates, you often forget the largest and the most important group that during the recruitment process continuously forms an image of the organization both as a potential employer and provider of services or products. You would think that the fact that applicants may be current or future customers, possible colleagues or even employers should create enough pressure to use the words “thank you” and for polite and up-to-date encounter equally with all the applicants.  Successful communications are a critically important part of the creation of employer image and more extensive corporate image.

This is why recruitment communications require a great deal of improvement in communicating to those applicants who are no longer in the running. Uncertainty and waiting become easier when information of progressing in or being cut from the process comes as early as possible. Giving unpleasant news is never fun but it is more than necessary. The more open and honest the communications, the better – both for the applicant as the communicator. It is a well-known fact that circles are small in Finland, so non-communication is not an option – it is a message in itself. Therefore, you should put yourself in the position of the other in both in recruitment and recruitment communications: what information as an applicant would I like to get?

Author: Saana Rossi